Sunday, November 29, 2009

If Algebra = "X", and careers = "Z", then find "Y".

A story in today's "Baltimore Sun" has a troubling headline: Algebra II test indicates 15% ready for college.

I'm amazed that a mere math test can determine a person's readiness for college.  I guess based on that one test then maturity level has nothing to do with college readiness. I also guess being self-motivated and goal oriented have nothing to do with college readiness either.  I could go continue on with other examples of what I think determines college "readiness" but I will admit that was not the main focus of the article.

However, it does seem that many educational "experts' and politicians have decided students who can't handle Algebra II are unfit for college. It wasn't until recently that I realized what a "gatekeeper course" Algebra II has become.

Is Algebra II really a vital course for every college major? Aren't there many careers which require a college degree that don't involve such high level mathematics as Algebra II?

Personally, I never attempted an Algebra II class, but I believe I have been successful in both the technical job marketplace and in my career as a teacher. But in retrospect, if Algebra II had been a requirement for me, I most likely would have chosen a different career path that didn't involve a college degree.

If Algebra II is such an important course to every student and every career, shouldn't our educational "experts" and politicians provide some insights and real support on different ways of teaching Algebra II so more people can truly learn it?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Birthday To This Blog

It's official... This Blog is one week old.  And other than Thanksgiving Day I've been able to provide a new posting every day.

But now I'm wondering if blogging every day is a bit too much, not necessarily for me, but for the readers.

As a result, I am requesting everyone answer today's survey question.  "How often should MisterRoger's Rants Reflections, and Reason Blog be updated?" 

In the meantime, I'm posting a link to the most important story of the weekend, scientists discover cure for cancer, time travel, and life on Jupit....., wait, what???... OMG!!!TIGER WOODS WAS IN A CAR ACCIDENT!!!

Ah... the priorities of our news media.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Top Ten List - #9: "24"

I really struggled yesterday to create a blog entry with a "Thanksgiving Thankful" theme. But gosh dang, there are just so many things in my life to be thankful for, plus yesterday was a bit of a busy day I just could not narrow my focus for a decent posting.

So as a result, I gave my self the day off from blogging.  It was a holiday after all, right?

But now, the day after Thanksgiving, I have some time to reflect.

Of course I"m thankful for the obvious... my family, friends, health, job, and my yankee in-laws. (OK honey, you can put the gun down now.)

But if I had created one of my goofy top ten lists for Thanksgiving, I probably would include on the "thankful" list somewhere between number 5 and number 9 the TV series "24".

I really don't watch many network TV series... Before I got hooked on "24" during its fifth season, I think the last shows I watched with any regularity were "Dallas", "L.A. Law" and "Miami Vice".

But now I ask myself, "Self, what is it about that "24" TV show that keeps you watching it?".

First, I'd have to say it appeals to my inner "conservative" leanings. There doesn't seem to be anything "librul" about the lead character of the show, Jack Bauer.

But also, it provides a bit of hope that some government agencies when led by competent people, can focus on their primary mission and provide a valuable service to its citizens. While I admit I do lean conservative, I still believe their are positive things that government can do for the people if they stick to the original intent of the law and not try to overreach.  Social Security and the Tennessee Valley Authority are my two favorite examples, but those will be topics for another day.

Of course there are other things about the show that appeal to me... the suspense, the non-stop action, the technology used in the show, and the "geeky" characters that continuously spout computer jargon.

And I've got to admit since I began watching the series and Netflixing some of the older ones, I've actually developed a bit of an emotional attachment to some of the regular characters.... Jack Bauer of course, but also Chloe O'Brian, and Bill Buchanan.

Heck, when Bill Buchanan was killed in the show last season, I've got to admit I felt a bit of sadness.  But I soon realized that I was not the only one sadden by Bill's demise as seen in this posting from another blogger.

So I guess in this age of reality shows, the "talking heads" on the cable news networks, not to mention the plethora of comedies and dramas that seeem to have distinct "librul" leanings, I'm thankful for an ongoing action series that appeals to people like me.

(I'm also thankful it's only 46 days until the next season of "24" begins!)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cry Me A River, Version 1.0

I knew when I started blogging I would come upon a news story that would entice me to use the "Cry Me A River" title plus I'm sure there will be more.

The headline in this Detroit News report reads "Some Fathers Say Michigan Paternity Law Shuts Them Out"

Fair enough, I think, since I'm sure there are some ancient laws on the books that need updating.  However, upon reading the article I discover the main focus of the story is guy who is being denied "because the girl was born while the woman was married to another man -- who is still her husband -- meaning [he] can't demand visitation or even pay child support".

"I'm a good dad," [he says]. "Why should I not have rights to my child? Everything I do is for her."

I don't know but somewhere I think there's a definition of "being a good dad" that excludes being a man who fathers a child with woman who is married to someone else.

I do understand that the guy featured in the story is emotionally torn knowing he has a child that he can't see and help raise.  However, I believe he should suck it up and realize that what's best for the child is to leave her alone and not disrupt the family that she is being raised in.

Besides, I think he should consider himself lucky that the husband of the married woman is not coming after him looking to kick his butt. (or worse.)

Perhaps when he chose to have an affair with a married woman he should have realized the following: (from a reader comment on the article)

If you sleep with married women, expect your heart to be broken on many levels. The cold hand of the law will not be there to comfort you. You are an interloper with no rights. Man up and get over it. If mommy really loves you, she will divorce her husband and marry you.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Michigan middle-schoolers dabble in lawmaking... In related news Michigan's real lawmakers continue to act like kindergartners.

Sorry... I saw the headline to this story in the Lansing State Journal and that was the first thing that entered my mind.

Perhaps the elected legislators should read the quotes of some of the participating students and remember how the legislative process is supposed to work.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Reflection on Charter Schools

Charter schools is an idea that I wholeheartedly support on a philosophical level.  However, on a practical level, the charter school concept has a few glaring flaws.

First, charter schools are a wonderful idea.  They are public schools funded with tax dollars and they give parents an additional choice of schooling for their children.  In addition, charter schools can be organized as specialized institutions to meet the needs of students that might not be otherwise met in a "traditional" school.

However, charter schools are given special exceptions to the normal rules that regulate other public schools.  I'm mainly commenting on charter schools in this posting because of one specific charter school, Basis Charter School in Scottsdale, Arizona, has been mentioned in the news lately as being "the best" or one of the "top ten" high schools in America.

However, after a little investigation, particularly this video clip from CNN,  I discovered that Basis Charter School has a few distinct advantages other public schools don't have.

First, this school has been allowed to set really high graduation requirements for it students, including passing at least six (6) Advanced Placement courses.  As a result, the type of student applying for admission to this school is right away probably a student that is self motivated and above average academically.

Furthermore, Basis Charter School does not provide extracurricular activities such as sports, or transportation for its students.

Also, add to its advantages, the demand for special education services is probably pretty low since its high academic requirements would most likely discourage most parents who have children with special needs from even applying there.

The CNN video and other articles praise this school for being able to operate for $1000 to $2000 less per student per year than traditional public schools.  But heck, does not having to provide transportation, extracurricular activities, and special education support services account for most of those savings?

I'm not writing this to necessarily complain about Basis Charter School, in fact I applaud what they are doing.  However, I do think based on the advantages this school is allowed to have over "traditional" public schools that the media and politicians need to temper their praise for this school as being the "best" school in America.

Perhaps the lesson learned from the success of Basis Charter School is that politicians should consider giving "traditional" public schools a bit more flexibility instead of imposing so many "cookie-cutter" requirements.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The New Louisiania Purchase - 2009 Style

I know both the Republican and Democratic parties do this type of stuff, but it's still an example of why I don't trust the government.

From the Washington Post:

Staffers on Capitol Hill were calling it the Louisiana Purchase.

On the eve of Saturday's showdown in the Senate over health-care reform, Democratic leaders still hadn't secured the support of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), one of the 60 votes needed to keep the legislation alive. 

The wavering lawmaker was offered a sweetener: at least $100 million in extra federal money for her home state. 

And so it came to pass that Landrieu walked onto the Senate floor mid-afternoon Saturday to announce her aye vote -- and to trumpet the financial "fix" she had arranged for Louisiana. "I am not going to be defensive," she declared. "And it's not a $100 million fix. It's a $300 million fix."

Day Two Reflection

So it's now day number two for my new blog.

Six people have taken my survey.  Four plan on visiting my blog on a regular basis, and two people "like ice cream".

I actually had one person post a comment on my "Healthcare Debate" posting.

I've also posted a link to this blog on my Facebook page which attracted a handful of comments.

In addition, since I first created this blog, I've noticed an unmarked car driving by my house on an hourly basis.  It's a dark blue Ford Crown Victoria.  I'm not sure if it's the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, or the NEA.

As a result, I'd say my new blog is off to a good start.

So I've scanned my normal politics and education websites this morning but I'm not seeing much worth commenting on.

As a result I'll offer up a link about Sarah Palin and see if that baits anyone into some comments.

Hundreds of Palin Fans Left in the Cold.... but please try to avoid any distasteful comments about the photo of her and Trig in the top right corner of the article.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Health Care Debate

Before I start this "reasoned rant" let me first say I believe our society has a responsibility to provide access to quality heath care for its citizens whether they be rich or poor.  And I also strongly believe that our country can not prosper in the future with the health care system that we have now.

However, I am very concerned that the current proposals before the legislative branch of the United States government are most likely to end up as a huge Rube Goldberg bureaucracy.

I think most of us have witnessed well meaning legislation be manipulated to provide special benefits to a few or to be so cumbersome to decipher that some segments of our society are able to gain advantages that were never the original intent of the law.

I truly think there are some incremental changes we can make to our current health care system before we attempt any of the massive overhaul plans that are now being proposed.

To me it seemed like the CEO of Whole Foods had some ideas worth considering in his Wall Street Journal opinion piece.  His article did not seem to bash any of the proposals before congress, yet many people and organizations were outraged by his suggestions and called for a boycott of his company.

Education Reform: Wrong Diagnosis, So Wrong Cure.

Ok... so I've been wanting to compose a "letter to editor" for a while now regarding education reform.

However, I discovered an article that says pretty much everything I've been thinking about the topic... so much so it's almost like the author of the article tapped into my brainwaves and stole my ideas.

Anyway... here is the link to said article.

Welcome to my version of the 3 "R's"....

Welcome to my version of the 3 "R's".

Ok... so this is my umpteenth attempt at keeping blog or journal on a regular basis.

However, I figure if I place the bookmark for this blog right between my Facebook and Netflix bookmarks then I might be likely to update it on a regular basis.

Besides... Lawd knows I read enough of other people's opinions so I might as well put mine out there as well.